Book reviews by students

The illicit happiness of other peopleManu Joseph (born 1974) is an Indian journalist and writer.  He is the current editor of OPEN magazine.  His debut novel “Serious Men” was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize  and won the 2010 The Hindu Literary Prize.   It was included in Huffington Post’s 10 best books of 2010.  In 2011, it was shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.  He also received the PEN Open Book Award for the novel in 2011.

His second novel “The Illicit Happiness of Other People” was published  in September 2012.  The novel has been described as ‘a quirky comic taken on a domestic life in southern India.’

Joseph was born in Kottayam, Kerala and grew up in Chennai. He is a graduate of Loyola College, Chennai but currently lives in Delhi.

This story is based in Chennai in a residential colony which features the Chacko household.  There was a four member family.  Yes, you read it right. ‘WAS’.  Now they are only three and the head of the family Ousep Chacko is in a relentless pursuit in finding out why Unni Chacko did what he did.

Ousep Chacko is a journalist by profession in the day and is a menace to the family and neighbourhood in the night owing to the drunken tantrums he throws.  Mariamma is a post-graduate in Economics and talks to the walls, the consequence of a childhood tragedy.  They have two sons. Unni Chacko and Thoma Chacko. Unni is adored by everyone and is an awesome cartoonist.  Thoma who is the youngest son and is an adolescent is always anxious about things and is terrified of everything.  While everyone in the neighbourhood is busy racking their brains preparing for IIT, Unni is least affected by this mania for academic excellence.

What did Unni do?  Unni was seventeen when he fell down from the balcony leaving the family to ponder whether it was an accident.  This forces Ousep, an otherwise failed writer to investigate the mystery of Unni’s death.  While Mariamma and Thoma struggle to lead a normal life, they are helped by the Parish priest in buying provisions at discounted rates.  Ousep approaches Unni’s  friends to learn of various truths about Unni’s extraordinary ways. ‘The Illicit Happiness of other people’ is one book that you cannot put down without enjoying the various humorous plots it has.

Sanju Maria    

 I PCMB G

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